On Thursday afternoon, the NBA released the 2023-24 schedule and gave fans of every team something to talk about. The OKC Thunder fan base can feel a bit spurned by the lack of National TV games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s schedule revealed quite a bit about the team’s upcoming season. The schedule release was thrilling and filled with exciting stretches, games welcoming back former players, and stretches to be concerned about.
OKC Thunder deserves more National TV games with one of the best young cores in the NBA.
Probably the most notable thing about the schedule was the Thunder’s national TV slate. Something the OKC Thunder have rarely seen since moving forward in the rebuild, nationally televised games are back in abundance.
Eight of the Thunder’s games next season will air on either ESPN or TNT, more than the past four regular seasons combined. Although this is a welcome sight for the OKC Thunder just to be recognized nationally, it still seems like the Thunder lack respect.
After a 40-42 season earned OKC a spot in the play-in tournament, the Thunder received praise and media attention throughout the offseason. Even with Rookie of the Year hopeful Chet Holmgren set to debut on a team with playoff aspirations, the OKC Thunder netted fewer national TV games than the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs were given 11 nationally televised games, including two against the Thunder. The first overall pick, Victor Wembanyama, is the Spurs’ only claim to relevance, as they went 22-60 last season.
The OKC Thunder should have a chip on their shoulder because of that next season, but it is not the only reason. There is another national TV-related reason.
OKC’s nationally televised games are well spread out next season, minus the two-month gap between such games in the heart of the season. Between mid-November and mid-January, OKC will not play a single game on national TV without making a run in the In-Season Tournament.
The OKC Thunder join the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls as one of three teams that will not play a nationally televised game in December, including NBATV. A month that OKC Thunder fans were looking forward to because of a potential Christmas Day appearance has turned into a month where the team is blatantly disrespected.
Outside of the Thunder’s national TV games, the NBA gave the team a somewhat average schedule. With 14 back-to-backs next season, the Thunder falls directly in the middle of the league as each team will play between 13 and 15.
After the all-star break, OKC will get a potentially easy schedule. Including a pre-break game in Orlando, 16 of OKC’s final 29 games will be against teams that missed the playoffs last season after playing only 20 such games in the first 55.
The OKC Thunder got a fair draw compared to the rest of the league. As a young team, respect must be earned throughout the next 82 games. And with this schedule, especially the final few weeks, the Thunder may have a perfect setup to make a playoff appearance next season.